57 Comments
May 25, 2022Liked by Mathew Crawford

My nephews were debating staying on with a masters after one got into a hard to get internship with amazon. What he learned in 90 days working and interviewing PHD's told him it was a waste of money and he knew more. You see corporate is now leaps and bounds ahead of academia already when it comes to hard sciences.

I tell the kids in my family, you only have 5 ways to make money. Crime, win lottery, inherit it, do something other people cant do, do something other people won't do.

At the same time my neighbors son was accepted to Princeton on scholarship while the son two years younger was a pot head. He saved $100,000 for each and said if you graduate high school you get it and my job is over. 6 year later Princeton is living with him and pot head has a plumbing business and two houses.

Expand full comment

Oh boy, this is a pet peeve for me. So he or his parents, or the taxpayer paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for this dude (who i'm sure is very nice and smart) to feel true friendship. *slow clap*

It's such a privilege to attend college into your 20's. Who has time for that? Unless they have a very specific goal that cannot be achieved without college, my kids know that it's not at all expected that they'll go to college. In fact, if they want to spend ~4 years sitting and getting "educated", they better give us a damn good reason why they need to do that in a university, as opposed to in the field, or on youtube.

My husband and I got married after a semester of college, and then dropped out a few months later when we found out we were expecting our first kid. Looking back, it's the single best move we made. We worked everywhere and anywhere, gained experience in different fields, and were able to launch on our own 2 years before our peers finished college. Your early 20's are when you have energy, excitement, and flexibility to take risks. Why anyone would choose to spend that in a caged system I can't understand, and I hope we reach a point soon where people realize that college should be a last resort towards a life path, not a first resort.

/end rant

Expand full comment

Did he learn that crypto is essentially another mass psychosis that was invented to offer this generation the illusion that with hard work and smarts... and some luck.. that they can live the dream.... in a world where there are next to no opportunities to achieve the dream through the traditional pathways

I would note that there are dozens of massively successful companies that lose billions and are unlikely to ever earn a dime.

One might argue that is a pathway to riches but it is very difficult to invent a business that loses billions yet is still able to attract more billions to burn. That path is more like trying to win a lottery.

I know quite a few people involved in the crypto space -- most of them are in a cult like trance -- no matter what the price they continue to buy -- because they believe the likes of Bitcoin was cheap at 60k. It's going to whatever the PR says it's going to - 500k? Then it crashes to 26k... at which point they load up even more buying the crash. These folks have cash to burn .... bankers lawyers entrepreneurs ...

I have a different circle - younger -- (30s) in an ice hockey beer league I play in ... seems like most of them are spending a great deal of their time trying to identify the next big crypto... I don't open the door to that conversation because it's impossible to close - they live this stuff.

The thing is... most of these guys have dead end jobs -- with minimal opportunities for upwards mobility -- the more inflation bites the more time they dedicate to crypto....

They all want to make it big. For them it' not like a lottery -- there is skill and hard work involved here... (I agree on the hard work ... they confuse skill with luck). It's really the only way for most of them to get ahead in a world that is bereft of opportunities...

But hey - we all know that it is important for a society to provide upwards mobility.... or at least the perception that one can go from rags to riches... so let them have their crypto... we'd hate to see them rioting in the streets as petrol crosses $10 / gallon.

Expand full comment

Just like universities have always been about status, "elite" universities have been about networking. As the "elite" has changed its status, so did the universities.

During my 23 years of academic teaching, I used to tell my students, "If you want a degree, go to college; if you want to learn, go to the library." Also, I started each semester by telling my students, "I don't teach; you teach yourself. However, I create an environment and supply materials that will enable you to do it efficiently."

Expand full comment

I keep wondering about the idea that we are going to wipe out the debt of college graduates, while keeping the Admin heavy graft going at a $20,000-50,000 a year clip...

Expand full comment

Well I have a news feed of scientific discoveries and there's a ton per day from multiple universities using serious multiyear experiments on serious multimillion dollar equipment. Anything from field testing light pollution on diatom plumes and plankton migrations to quantum computing using light via Rydberg particles in cuprite crystals. And everything mind boggling between.

I wonder if we're at the stage where society can afford to run 99.99% of the capable through the system knowing only 0.01% will produce anything? Because that anything is beyond a home run it's circumnavigating the globe.

I see the main risk as the wokemindvirus starts tearing the fabric apart to a literal boogaloo event of some variety.

Expand full comment

The Ivy league is based on poison Ivy...

Poison Ivy are the Skull & Bones and Harvard +++ secret societies.

Those are shortcuts for the Elite (Israelite) to bring in their own or their selected into positions of power.

People are recruited there just like Klaus Schwab and Mark Zuckerberg the Bushes and John Kerry because they are already evil think themselves better than others and come from an elitist background.

They are willing subjects of the Jewish Occult.

You find Boris Johnson also a member of the Bullington Club Oxford the equivalent of Skull & Bones which is based on the Bavarian Illuminati.

Freemasonry and the Jewish Occult are the common denominator for all things evil because they are already evil willing subjects to be used.

Further more after graduation from the system they think themselves know all but are only specialized idiots willing to defend the system against critics.

And since only graduates of the system get positions of power and the secret societies fill those positions of power it will never change.

People who think outside the box (like me) are vilified and pushed aside yet we are the only ones who can solve problems because those educated by the system can't think straight.

I wrote about this here with a great Noam Chomsky Quote...

https://fritzfreud.substack.com/p/the-reality-of-the-psychological?s=w

Expand full comment

"it is easier to explore the world of adults a bit at a time with a pack of friends at around the ages of 18-2x, for some value of x".

Yes, and it is even easier if it's a kind of curated, cozier, artificial world of adults. Even many professors need this special environment to survive.

Life at university (2000 +/- 5) was great. In Germany, we never really had the concept of an "elite" university. All mathematics diplomas, for example, are considered being of equal worth.

Expand full comment

The elites and the various prospects and hangarounds needs elite universities for social networking, which I think you know. Without name recognition, it does not matter how accomplished, intelligent or knowledgable you are, since any opening will go to someone already known, be it via a fraternity, a club or other association from university days.

That's simply how humans work, and railing against it is about as fruitful as being angry at the weather. Instead, learn to game it, or don't bother trying.

We all know the stories of the unknown genius coming from a simple nowhere background knocking the socks off the establishment. It's a great story, but it's only a story. Any such person is either a liar or an outlier. It's the 99.999....9% that counts. Majority rules, and normal is a quantative value, not a qualitative, especially in matter regarding human behaviour.

So that's what the elite universities are for: establishing brand recognition for your name, and to weed out people who are risks, not team players or perhaps even antagonistic to the game itself.

Same as the elementary school playground, only more convoluted.

Expand full comment

As I think of myself as a coconut palm leaf cap weaver among tin foil hats, I’ll just comment on the title and read the links later....The elite needs elite universities, that’s where they connect and concoct ways to steer the herd....

I grew up in academic circles and have used the last 30 yrs to get off my head and into the body...when you have good contact to your body you learn and memorize far easier (I’m a teacher)...that’s what meditation and the art of war is all about.....but, of course.....” don’t mind me....”

Expand full comment

I would be very interested in what methods he used for learning many things at once.

Isn't the function of an elite university to ensure that there remains an elite group versus a non-elite group? Even the value that this student feels they got reflects this, perhaps obliquely - the most valuable thing he got were the relationships.

My suspicion is that a student who is able to graduate from Yale in a truncated period via "unsupervised learning" is one who does not need an elite university. Their milieu and development prior to entry into the institution changes the value they receive. A student with a different path might get something different from the experience. Of course, they may find much less success there, too.

Expand full comment

Clearly something has to give with higher education if society is expected to function at anything close to a workable level. Universities, bowing to the Woke madness, are dropping or dramatically lowering academic standards (I am thinking here mostly of the stigmatization of standardized tests) which will inevitably lead to a degraded end product. And for those students who are qualified to benefit from a university education, the education they do receive will no doubt be diluted by the softer standards that are imposed so as to not leave too many behind.

In short, education is in the process of becoming one big (and very expensive) virtue signaling con job. So what happens?

Either society continues to look to these failing institutions to provide the intellectual horsepower for the future or it doesn't. If it does, then things will inevitably degrade, so my hope is that necessity, being the mother of invention, will intervene and lead us to other models. One is internet learning; another is apprenticeship. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive.

If society does move to newer learning modes, one necessary component will be evidence of mastery. Certification, if you will. Our Woke friends aside, there is a hard requirement for testing. No society can thrive, perhaps even survive, if the folks at the top are not competent. So coming up with a verifiable means of certifying a person in the internet age is a real business opportunity.

Diplomas used to serve that function but not anymore.

Expand full comment

It’s a pity that the university was invented before the internet.

The only thing I need a university for is discipline. It’s more efficient if I can have a teacher who will threaten me with bad grades for not studying graduate level math to lighten the load on my executive function and nudge me away from studying other things. I don’t need them to teach me anything or show me how it’s done, and if I even try to copy their way to do it the memory will be like a form of corrupted malware due to my brain being shut off under amygdala hijack mode from the teacher’s presence. At least that’s how I think autism works.

And community colleges should be abolished altogether. They have no graduate level math classes so you’re stuck with having to study basic level gen ed classes which distract you from being able to study graduate level math on your own. It’s better to study the graduate level math and then take the humanities classes; otherwise it’s like sex before marriage, or dessert before dinner. A non-commutative operation.

Expand full comment

I learned in my youth that colleges didn’t seem to be about education as much as getting third party confirmation about knowledge . Maybe I was just a romantic teen that could see through the councilers bullshit . I thought I would attend university but not register . Then I started to work and my plans diverted .

Now I look at the institution as an organization of will . Like the difference between going to the gym or exercising at home . Home has lots of distractions and takes personal will power to overcome , the gym has limited distraction and is easy to get going when there . The social environment of the educational institution keeps everyone on track , a kind of social will.

There may well be a redundancy to the educational institution when examining for knowledge , but when it comes to will to achieve and accomplish it seems to play a role .

With the non work university in conception , like what Bret and heather talk about , these benefits are worthy to address . Students are helped by peers for many reasons

Expand full comment

Thanks, that's a great story. As someone who worked for years in laboratory research I still feel that on campus learning is necessary for some professions, namely some of the hard sciences and medical fields. However, I have learned a ton from online courses for my own professional development and feel like this is the future. The problem is the legacy positions of companies that want to see a university degree. I've seen education requirements on many positions that are completely unreasonable. I see things like Google and IBM offering very reasonable priced certifications online as great steps in the right direction or challenging the current model.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment